Ottawa in 2017 is an adventure. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, the capital is abuzz with activity, enthusiasm and visitors!
This didn’t just happen, of course – it’s the result of years of planning by Mayor Jim Watson, Guy Laflamme and his team at the Ottawa 2017 bureau, and the local tourism team, from hotels to attractions to festivals.
The meetings and conventions sales team at Ottawa Tourism, for example, has been hard at work leading up to 2017 and has successfully secured more than 45 large-scale meetings for our city this year, an unprecedented 220 per cent increase over the number of large events (more than 500 delegates) held just two years ago.
While the attention commanded by our year-long celebration is one reason for the increase, Ottawa’s popularity with meeting planners is also the result of significant investment in the destination over the past few years. First and foremost, the city’s purpose-built convention centre – the Shaw Centre – has been a huge draw in its six years of operation. Billions of dollars have been and continue to be invested in our city’s infrastructure, including $863 million of renovations to Parliament Hill’s West Block, extensions to our Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, and an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in redeveloping the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport.
We have also been very successful in harnessing local contacts to attract major international meetings to Ottawa. Ottawa Tourism staff are hands-on when it comes to preparing bids to host these events. We provide tools and expertise to convince corporations and associations that Ottawa is the place to be!
It’s important to note, beyond the one-off parties, this year’s 150th celebrations also include a series of legacy projects for Ottawa, such as a new, permanent Arctic Gallery for the Canadian Museum of Nature; the new Canadian History Hall at the Canadian Museum of History; a new façade and dramatic public spaces for the National Arts Centre; a new Bank of Canada Museum; the new Global Centre for Pluralism; and a new Canada Science and Technology Museum opening in November 2017. These attractions will continue to draw crowds – and meetings – for years to come.
And the momentum continues in 2018, with the full opening of Canada’s Centre for Geography and Exploration at 50 Sussex Dr.; the Confederation Line Light Rail Transit system commencing operation; a new Le Germain hotel at Arts Court; and a new luxury, self-driving boat rental company called Le Boat making its North American premiere along the Rideau Canal system. Embrace the excitement!
President and CEO